Choosing the right fishing charter can mean the difference between a memorable day on the water and a frustrating, deflating one, so it is important to put some time and research into picking a charter that will provide the best fishing experience for a reasonable price.

At just about any popular fishing location along the coasts, you will see and hear ads for charter trips. The first thing you want to do is ignore them all. Some of them may be perfectly good charters, but ads are not the way to select a charter.

The first step in charter research is deciding what kind of fish you want to go after.  Different charters specialize in different species of fish, so you will want to concentrate on charters that specialize in the species you want to pursue.

The next step in the process is the “ask”. Ask about charters at your hotel, at bait shops, the chamber of commerce, marinas. Who do they recommend? Write down the names and cross-reference them.  What charters come up multiple times on the lists?

Next, go to the internet and research the names on your list. Do they have positive reviews? What are their rates? Which seem reputable? When you are doing online research, remember that just because a charter is expensive, does not mean it is the best. There are plenty of great charters available for very reasonable rates.  This is a good point at which to decide how much you are willing to pay for a charter and concentrate on charters in that price range.

After performing the online research, go visit the charters on your list, in person. The best time to visit them is in the afternoon, when they are coming in. This can provide valuable information about the charters, because you can see the results firsthand. Which charters have obviously caught fish and which have not?  This also provides an opportunity to talk to the anglers coming off the charters. Ask them about their experience. What did they like? Did they have any problems?

When visiting the charters, do not put a significant amount of emphasis on the size of the boat or the quality of the boat, neither play a key role in catching fish.  The person who is driving the boat is much more important. Talk to the captains. Explain your expectations. Ask the captains about their experience and what you can expect from hiring their charters.  Ask them what type of equipment they use and what tactics they like to use. While talking to the captains, try to get a sense of their enthusiasm for fishing and their desire to provide a quality experience for their customers.

Visiting the charters in person also provides the opportunity to see which charters were booked for the day and which were not. If almost all the charters have gone out, and the one you are visiting was not booked, it is a good clue to avoid that charter.

At this point, you should have enough information to select a charter. There are no guarantees when it comes to charter fishing, but doing thorough research before booking a trip, while dramatically increase your odds of a productive day on the water.

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